Call it the renaissance of British cuisine—from revived and updated bangers and mash to regional authentic Chinese, London has rewritten its own culinary story and now proudly bears the qualities of a veritable food destination. Whether it's Britalian or pub fare, the latest English culinary trends have depth, dimension, and diversity. We'll cheerio to that.
A Portuguese and a Chinese Chef do small plates like you've never known them.Read about Ana and Zijun ›
A Food Writer Starts a Supper Club with Michelin Stars in his EyesRead about James ›
Cold Brew Coffee, From the Supermarket to the Cocktail BarRead about Hugh and Luke ›
Cultivating an Italian Soul in British KitchensRead about Theo ›
Where seasonal ingredients, big flavors and pan-European cuisine reignRead about Tom ›
One Part Stellar Pedigree, Two Parts CreativityRead about Lee ›
There's hardly a dull block in this beautiful (if sometimes grey) city, but some districts rise above the rest when it comes to great food. Whether you're visiting an area with the express goal of dining, or seeking something tasty after other adventures, our neighborhood guide will help you hit the spot.
There maybe one on every corner, but finding a good pub is not always easy. Finding one that does genuinely good food—the term ‘gastropub’ has been very abused in recent years—is even trickier. But no matter, Brits go to the pub for a good beer and some lively chat. Follow them to these well-kept secrets.
The Royal Oak, Bethnal Green
What could be more perfect than picking up your flowers on a Sunday at Columbia Road flower market and popping into the Royal Oak for some refreshment?
The Holly Bush, Hampstead
This place is such a secret, it’s actually quite hard to find, but tucked into a winding lane in the hills of Hampstead village sits The Holly Bush. It serves standard pub grub to locals recuperating with a pint after a walk on the nearby Heath.
The French House, Soho
One of London’s most iconic pubs, which has welcomed everyone from Francis Bacon to Lucien Freud over the years. It’s French only in name, and the slightly perturbing fact they only serve beer in half-pints.
Lansdowne, Primrose Hill
The ‘Primrose Hill set’ of the 1990s – think Jude Law, Kate Moss and the Gallagher brothers – knew how to have a good time, and plenty of mischief was had in legendary local, the Lansdowne. Little has changed, not least its electric atmosphere and absolutely fabulous pizza menu.
The Dove, Hackney
Peruse Broadway Market and stop off at The Dove for an incredible selection of beers.
The Lord Clyde, Borough
After an afternoon at the market, drop by this old school Cockney boozer and imagine you’re in the Kray Brothers-era London.
One of London’s most iconic pubs, Soho's French House has welcomed everyone from Francis Bacon to Lucien Freud over the years.
Gone are the days of canned peas, bubble and squeak, and black pudding (or at least the horrid versions) -- the renaissance of British food in the past half a century is one of the biggest comeback stories in culinary history. Postwar Britain was a cold, ration-worn place, where the sunny, olive-oil drenched mozzarella and tomato caprese salads of southern Europe were virtually non-existent, not to mention unheard of. “In with chips, fresh fruit and dried pasta… out with white bread, tinned peas and meat paste,” wrote BBC News in a recent article on the 10 ways British eating habits have changed.
Enter the Italianisation of British food. Widespread today, Italian-style cooking with its dried and fresh pastas made no appearance at all on England’s National Food Survey until 1998. According to the BBC, between then and 2014, weekly household purchases in the category more than doubled. From Elizabeth David’s introduction of parmigiano reggiano and simple, rustic techniques to home cooks starved for new flavors to the fact that spaghetti bolognese (or ‘spag bol’) is considered a national dish, the UK has a long love story with its Mediterranean neighbor.
Influential restaurants like the River Café hit the scene in the late eighties and chefs began drawing on the farm-to-table principles inherently at the root of Italian food, like seasonality and simplicity. As for the British take? Theo Randall, Chef at The InterContinental in Mayfair says, “We’ll use amazing ingredients from here -- like incredible root vegetables or beautiful squashes -- but we’ll do it an Italian way. We get our burrata from a woman in Clapham, who gets milk from cows in Surrey, for example.”
“In with chips, fresh fruit and dried pasta… out with white bread, tinned peas and meat paste”
It’s called Shoreditch-on-Sea for a reason: the coastal town of Hastings has seen swatches of Londoners move in in recent years, attracted to the broad, shingly beach and the quaint streets of the old town. With them has come a dynamic food scene and some lovely shops to browse in too, making it the perfect day trip from London.
The Battle of Hastings was fought on its shores in 1066, with the Norman conquest of England, and for centuries after it was a bustling fishing port. Walk along the coast here and see the catch arriving in huge boats and the colossal seagulls flying overhead. In the Victorian era, Hastings became a popular seaside resort – like Bexhill, Brighton, Hove and Rye also along the Sussex coast – and that can be seen today in the ramshackle fish and chip shops along the seafront and the funicular railway that carries visitors up to the top of the cliff. There’s also a flashy arcade and old school promenade, relics of a by-gone era demonstrating an antiquated way of going on holiday.
Hastings is a little tired around the edges now, which only adds to its charm, but also has a thriving cultural scene that can be seen in the Jerwood Gallery on the waterfront and in the nearby town of St Leonards. All this, just an hour and a half train ride away from London.
The Crown, All Saints Street
A fun, eminently cosy local serving ales from the region, corking Bloody Marys and a fantastic line-up of pub grub.
Judge’s Bakery, High Street
A quaint bakery serving fresh loaves, as well as cakes for those with a sweet tooth.
A.G. Hendy & Co, High Street
The home ware shop out front is breathtaking enough, but peer down the little corridor at the back of the store and you will notice a small open kitchen selling the day’s catch. A wonderful dining experience, and a good place for souvenirs too.
Maggie's Fish & Chips
The seafront has an endless array of fish and chip places to choose from, all serving largely good quality grub. Our favorite is Maggie's, for their ethereally light fry and no fuss elegance.
There’s a flashy arcade and old school promenade, relics of a by-gone era demonstrating an antiquated way of going on holiday.